For veterans of the U.S. Navy who fought in Vietnam and were affected by the spraying of the herbicide Agent Orange, a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit offers hope.

In the past, veterans were denied benefits if they were affected by the herbicide but did not serve in the inland waters of Vietnam. The decision changes the definition of inland ports.

“Now, they’re saying if sailors were in the territorial waters off Vietnam, which is the 12-mile limit, that also counts for Agent Orange,” said Mike Bartol, Veterans Service Office for Teller County and U.S. Navy Commander, (Ret). “That’s going to be millions, probably billions, with tens of thousands of cases.”

The decision stems from a case brought by Alfred Procopio, Jr., vs. the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in an effort to receive benefits for illnesses like diabetes and prostate cancer.

“For the past 17 years, Navy veterans were not covered unless they physically went in country,” Bartol said. “They got the same exposure to Agent Orange, from the herbicide blowing in the wind, in the water, cooking with water but no coverage from VA in terms of disability benefits.”

In announcing the decision by the court, Bartol hopes that eligible veterans will come forward. “This covers illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer,” Bartol said.

For information, call Bartol at 686-5526

Pikes Peak Courier Reporter

Pikes Peak Courier Reporter

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